Social protection is the right to survive. It is the right to a basic income, shelter, health, food and information, all of which enables people to survive, support their dependents and find a way out of need and destitution. The right to social protection exists for all people, regardless of age, sex or ethnicity. The existence of this right should give people a sense of security even when they are not claiming it. The question for Pathways of Women’s Empowerment researchers was: how can social protection provide social justice for women? The answer to this question, Pathways researchers found, lay in taking a feminist approach to social protection.
A feminist social protection programme recognises and enhances women’s identity as citizens and enables women to assume the roles they choose and fulfil the obligations they value. It is an approach that defines, targets and alleviates poverty in accordance with the views, priorities and experiences of the women beneficiaries of social protection programmes. The objective of this type of programme is not simply to guarantee social protection as a short-term measure.
A longer-term objective combines social protection with measures that seek to redress gender imbalances by restoring the accountability of the state to poor women and their families. Research into how women use Conditional Cash Transfers in Egypt and experiences from Brazil demonstrate the effectiveness of a feminist approach to social protection in meeting women’s needs. This article, translated by Cecilia Sardenberg into Portuguese, shares some of the lessons from this work.